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At UN, Union Office Dispute, Wiring in Scribes' Club, 2014 Banifesto of FUNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- While the UN preaches democracy and even lack of censorship around the world, in two elections held last month inside the UN, disputes and decay were the rule.

  In the UN Staff Union election, in which an incumbent sought to stay on despite term limits, there were charges of illegal polling, and an attempt to stop paying the Elections Services Company.

  Now the incumbent - no longer in power - has implicitly asked the UN Secretariat to take back the Staff Union office, see below.

  When the results came out, and were posted on the UN's i-Seek intranet site, the losing ticket wrote December 20 that it intended to simply take over the Staff Union office.

  Back on December 20, Inner City Press asked the UN's acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: On the staff union election that just took place, given that itís budget crunch time, according to the Secretariat, who is its interlocutor? Who is the head of the staff union, the previous incumbent or the team that was announced as the winner on iSeek?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Regarding the staff representatives, itís ultimately up to them members of the staff to determine who their leadership is. It would not, you know, I donít think itís appropriate for this Office to intervene in their affairs.

Inner City Press: So, who do you speak to now? If you had to talk to the staff union, which of the two would you call?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: They will have, like I said, theyíll have to resolve it. Iím not going to say anything prejudicial to their process, nor do I think that they would appreciate that.

Then the losing ticket said it would just occupy the (UN given) office on January 6. So the now out of power incumbent wrote on the UN snow day on January 3, hoping that

"our Administration colleagues decide to fully dirty their hands and mandate in writing that the Union premises are vacated (it hasn't happened yet and I am not sure if it will since the 44th Staff Council authorized and paid in advance for a legal case to be brought to UNDT and such an action by the Administration would be the legal icing on the cake)."

  On December 17 Inner City Press published the results, putting the document online here:

Winner with 430 votes: Ticket 1 [They have thanked voters]

President Stephen Kisambira (DESA/PD)

First Vice-President Emad Hassanin (DGACM/MPD/PS)

Second Vice-President Leonid Dolgopolov (DSS/DSSS/SSS)

2d place with 231 votes: Ticket 2

President Nadir A. Dirar Bashir (DGACM/MPD/PS/DTPU)...

  We will cover that showdown, which is at least competitive. Even more decayed is the UN's Censorship Alliance, which while not even asking the UN to hold a briefing or answer questions about the crisis in South Sudan, re-emerged on December 22 through once and future president Pamela Falk of CBS hyping fashion photographs of herself with Ban Ki-moon.
  The "premises" the UN gives them saw the installation of wiring by the UN on December 31, even as Falk on January 2 used the UN noon briefing to deny ever accepting a donated Samsung TV through the South Korea mission and the UN, despite her own November 25 minutes, and the UN's December 10 answer to Inner City Press. See the 2014 "Banifesto" of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, here.

   Technically they're called the United Nations Correspondents Association, and in 2012 its leaders tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, pointing at a factual article Inner City Press published about Sri Lanka, the UN and conflicts of interest.

  Ban's Secretariat now admits on Sri Lanka a "systemic failure" - his Deputy Jan Eliasson repeatedly says that -- but UNCA, which still has no rules against trying to throw journalists out of the UN, nor apparently any conflict of interest rules, makes no admission, no reforms.

  It demands the first question at press conferences even if it has nothing to ask, or the answers will never be published.

  Not surprisingly it is in decay. Even as to its annual overly expensive ball, its draw Richard Roth of CNN was replaced by BBC's Laura Trevelyanwho during a 2009 trip to Sri Lanka with Ban Ki-moon and UK humanitarian chief Sir John Holmes not only didn't report Holmes on the record comment that he deleted all complaining emails from Tamils -- she said the Press reporting this "ruined" relations with Holmes for her and, for example, Reuters.

 Though over 2000 journalists are accredited at the UN, in December 2013 only 111 even tried to vote in the three days of polling -- and door to door demands to vote for -- the United Nations Correspondents Association. Seven of these ballots failed. The incumbent Pamela Falk of CBS, running unopposed, still managed to not get 26 of the 104 votes cast.

  But as a result of UNCA's "Ball" with Ban, she got her fashion photo in the NYT Styles section and made sure to hype it up, online and in the briefing room before being handed, only to waste, the first of four questions on the South Sudan crisis on December 23.

  Falk's vote total of 78 was lower than the 85 obtained in December 2011 by her predecessor, who was the one who first demanded that Inner City Press remove an article about Sri Lanka from the Internet, click here for that.

 The article UNCA "leaders" tries to censor reported on the previous financial relationship of Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative with UNCA's then president, in the context of this president screening in the UN the Sri Lankan government's war crimes denial film, without asking or the consent of Inner City Press then on the Executive Committee of UNCA.

  No reforms in UNCA were ever instituted after this.

  Now as Inner City Press exclusively reported on December 16, picked up in Sri Lanka in English and Tamil, Sri Lanka's defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was in New York. Some in Sri Lanka hasked: would he attend UNCA's $250 a plate event with Ban Ki-moon?

 Will the leaders of UNCA, an association of correspondents, make public who attended their ball, who paid and how much?

(Inner City Press after withstanding a kangaroo court UNCA proceeding quit the organization and co-founded the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, to actually defend the right of free press and free inquiry in and about the UN system.)

   UNCA is an organization in continued decline. In 2012 many of its "leaders" tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, as documented by documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Voice of America asked the UN to "review" Inner City Press' accreditation; VOA said it had the support of Agence France Presse and Reuters, click here for that.

The Reuters first vice president of UNCA spied for the UN, giving them an internal anti Press UNCA document three minutes after promising not to (story here, document here, audio here).

 While he has stepped off, the Reuters reporter he supervised (and who also tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN) campaigned to get on UNCA's board, demanding in Friday's noon briefing to all present, "Have you voted?" It's as if Reuters has a Permanent seat on UNCA's 15-member Executive Committee, like the P5 in the Security Council.

Here are the December 2103 results, compared to votes in December 2011 for the "candidate" or their predecessor

Dec '13 Dec '11

Prez: * 78 [85] Pamela Falk, CBS News TV and Radio

1st VP * 74 [79] Kahraman Haliscelik, TRT Turkish Radio & TV

2d VP * 48 71 Masood Haider, Dawn, Pakistan

* 48 [71] Sylviane Zehil, LíOrient Le Jour

3d VP * 55 [62] Erol Avdovic, Webpublicapress

38 Ali Barada, An-Nahar/France 24

Trez * 81 [71] Bouchra Benyoussef, Maghreb Arab Press

Sect * 79 [81] Seana Magee, Kyodo News

Members at Large (9)

* 57  Nabil Abi Saab , Alhurra TV

* 57  Talal Al-Haj ,Al-Arabiya News channel

22  George Baumgarten , Jewish Newspapers, Nation Media

* 50 Sherwin Bryce-Pease, South African Broadcasting (SABC)

* 51  Zhenqiu Gu, Xinhua News Agency

* 69  Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio Canada

* 56  Evelyn Leopold, Huffington Post Contributor

49 J. Tuyet Nguyen, German Press Agency DPA

* 67  Michelle Nichols, Reuters

41  Edwin Nwanchukwu, News Agency of Nigeria

27  Cia Pak, Scannews

*54  Valeria Robecco, ANSA

* 54  Sangwon Yoon , Bloomberg

  Some of the elected are new and their positions on UNCA Executive Committee members trying to get other (investigative) media thrown out of the UN, and the need to preclude this and UNCA leaders' anonymous social media trolling, are not yet known. (Some not elected were among the better / more diverse candidates.)

 They honored Ban Ki-moon, whose spokesperson's office squawked on December 13, immediately after a briefing on Syria chemical weapons, that wine would be served in the UNCA room and that election results were out: to UN, newsworthy.

When the UN Correspondents Association leaders tried stealthy to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, and have failed to institute any reform since, it became the UN's Censorship Alliance. Party on. Watch this site.


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